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ALEXANDER  VOK  HUMBOLDT.               165
We   will   first   follow   Humboldt   in   the   general
sketch of nature., where he gives us an abstract of
natural phenomena.   With the word " KLosxnos/' he in-
eludes the All, the universe with its regulations and
its laws.     Beginning with the most distant nebulse of
the  depths  of space,  he descends gradually  to  the
life of our little earth.    Humboldt has studied this
universe for half a century, with penetrating thought-
fulness, and clear mind, and he paints faithfully from
experience.    If we take the universe according to his
spirited description, to he filled with a world perva-
ding ether,  a vapour-like mass; we see it first con-
densed  into  the nebulae of the sky,  and then con-
densed still more into the comets, but still penetrable
by light, until in the planets,  all grades of density,
from that of antimony to  that of honey,  water and
firwood have been passed through, one planet showing
the denser, the other the less solid matter.     Hum-
boldt describes these formations in the space filled by
ether as balliform matter.
The stranger to astronomic science will be surprised
that Humboldt has ventured to determine the locality
of our solar system, and of the lens-shaped space filled
by the collected stellar bodies in their course round
the sun; but this question has long since been solved
by astronomy, with measurements of the stars, and
observations  of their course, and of their variations.
It has further been discovered that the self-illuminated
suns,   falsely  called  fixed   stars,   also   change   their
position; that, although our solar system, or, as Hum-
boldt expresses himself, our world-island, only consists
of one central body, which we call sun, and of planets,
comets, and asteroids, yet other solar systems have
two   or  more   of   such  self-luminous  bodies,   which
has been proved by the  discovery of the  so-called
double stars, and that these several suns in their turn
circulate round their common centre, lying in space
therefore not indicated by  any visible body.     Our
solar system includes, according to Humboldt, besides
the chief planets, moons, countless comets (of which*